Pteranodons over Yorkshire? Bat-winged monsters in Lancashire? RICHARD FREEMAN revisits a flap of pterodactyl sightings in England.
On September 15, 1982, a man walking his dog in Pudsey, West Yorkshire, heard a loud scream, followed by a low groan. Fearing a mugging was taking place, he went to investigate. He realised the cries were coming from above him, and he looked up to see a bat-winged, bird-like creature perched upon a neighbour’s roof, towering over the chimney pots.
He said: ‘It was making a screaming call with its beak open, the grunt with its beak closed. It launched itself from the roof, its weight causing it to drop below roof level, before its slow wing beat carried it off into the darkness.’
The witness estimated the monster’s wingspan to be eight feet. It was seen again in Yeadon, flying towards the airport. Then the sightings trailed off until June 7 the following year. A woman living in Thackley, Bradford, saw it flying with laborious strokes down her street towards a wooded, disused railway. The massive size astonished her.
Mike Priestly, features editor on the Telegraph & Argus and twice voted ‘Yorkshire Reporter of The Year’ decided to track the mystery down and photograph it. His patience was rewarded when he snapped a large flying creature in the skies above Bradford. His 300mm telephoto lens was unable to get a clear picture because of the extreme distance of the subject. Reports of the beast continued from Basildon, Shipley, Crossflats, Pudsey, Yeadon and Thackley. The last recorded sighting occurred in November 1985. Journalist Malcolm Hodds described a black beast with a 1.5 metre wingspan and finger-like feathers.
The Yorkshire pterodactyl flap was over, but on the other side of the Pennines a remarkably similar monster reared its head in 1999. Ian Wharton told me of the strange encounters of two of his colleagues in the Parks Department working at Hesketh Park, Southport. One man, Clive Everson, approached Wharton one morning, having claimed to have just seen what looked like a pterodactyl. A grey-skinned, bat-winged creature, with a long beak and massive wingspan, had risen up out of the bushes in front of Everson, and flew away, leaving him dazed and alarmed. A second man, Percy Whaterton, had seen two beasts answering the same description in the woods that backed onto his house. Whaterton thought they could be nesting in the forest. To date nothing further has been heard from this area.
A creature answering the same description has also been seen perched on a roof in Liverpool, by the ex-wife of my friend Larry Warren. In the late 1990s I received several anonymous phone calls from a man claiming that a dragon-like creature had returned to the skies above Ilkley in Yorkshire. He said a black-skinned, leathery-winged creature the size of a helicopter had been seen on several occasions. I could not verify the story so make of it what you will.